Regatta Prep: Junior Sailing
Part 1: 1-2 Weeks Out
Preparation for an event, from your first green fleet regatta to gold fleet youth champs starts a week or two before you pack up the trailer and leave for the venue. Prepping both yourself and your players for a regatta makes your life easier and puts them in the best position to succeed.
The process starts anywhere from 4-6 practices out from the event depending on the preparation of your players. A practice schedule could look something like this:
- Day 1: Lock down boat handling, spinnaker work, making sure skippers and crews are on the same page in the boat.
- Day 2: Review of rules of the road and situations. Practice consists of short courses and trying to generate as much traffic as possible so that a small fleet can feel like a big one.
- Day 3: Review of basic strategy and tactical ideas. Try to run a handful of races in a similar length to the actual event. Most junior sailing events try to have about a 35-45 minute total race length and they need to adjust to a long beat, looking for breeze on the run, and more importantly knowing how much energy a long race requires.
- Day 4: Starts. Everything related to starts. Line sights, acceleration, time on distance, favored end, choosing an end, practicing holding a spot. All of this using the sequence, flags and line configuration that will be used in the regatta.
- Day 5/6: Review of the schedule for the weekend, sailing instructions for the regatta, make sure everyone is ready to sail before you get to the venue. Also today can involve packing up the boats for travel. Touching base with the parents involved needs to be an ongoing dialogue throughout the week.
This is a very general outline and can be adjusted as you see fit. Once you hit the full swing of summer where travel to events is every weekend this will be adjusted accordingly.
Your own preparation will change accordingly as well, but in essence it has several essential parts.
- Know your travel plans. How are you getting to the venue, how is your coach boat getting there and where are you staying once you are there? Much of this (logistically) will be handled by your program director, but you and only you are responsible for making sure it all happens.
- Know the venue. If you’ve never sailed there or coached there, find someone who has and get some knowledge of the tides, wind tendencies, and weather.
- Know the weather. Check and double check as the week goes on, as it will probably change. In New England it changes on an hourly basis with little warning. This goes for wind as well, there are several good iPhone wind apps you can download.
- Get a copy of the sailing instructions and download a copy to iBooks on your phone. Know the schedule, the flags being used, everything you need to know about the regatta.
- Pack your bags. Typically an overnight bag and a regatta bag. Overnight bag is easy, change of clothes and sundries. Regatta bag is everything you need for a day on the water. Foul weather gear, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, water, food, spare parts, electrical tape, duct tape, spare line, anything else you can think of as well.
The more you ready yourself, the better you will be able to coach your players. Preparing them for the event is as much about results as it is their own enjoyment. If they go into an event feeling unsure and overwhelmed, you can be sure that they will be stressed during competition. You know your players best, and addressing their concerns and weaknesses going into the event will be different group to group. Develop your own routine and each event will get progressively smoother.
Coming soon, packing a trailer, coaching an event and debriefing.
Feeling ready for summer yet? Check back here at the Locker Room for more articles helping you land your dream job and prepare for a summer on the water. As always, email me at email@example.com with questions, comments, or ideas for articles.